Wikipedia:Build content to endure

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Wikipedia is littered with content that, while once great, has since decayed (much like this statue).

Most content on Wikipedia naturally improves over time. However, this is not always the case, particularly for featured content, and none of us will be around forever to defend the pages we care most about.

As a general principle, when building something on Wikipedia, envision it 10 years or even 50 or 100 years in the future. This doesn't mean every system must be entirely maintenance free (which would be impossible), but if maintenance is so complicated or tedious that only you would reasonably do it, it's sure to eventually fail.

Overall, Wikipedia is a long-term endeavor, and contributions that survive will have a far greater impact than those that don't. By following these best practices, you will increase the likelihood that pages will endure and retain their quality into the future.

Measures[edit]

This section lists measures that can be taken to help prevent content from degrading over time.

  • Use hidden text comments and edit notices to warn against tempting but undesirable edits. For instance, set specific criteria for lists that might otherwise accrue cruft, or note next to a controversial element that there is consensus to include it. One way to identify these temptations is to note repeatedly reverted edits or talk page suggestions. Include enough information to guide unfamiliar editors, but otherwise keep the notices as limited and short as possible to avoid banner blindness.
  • Avoid language likely to become outdated, such as "recently", "currently", "so far", and "soon".
  • Use templates such as {{As of}} and {{Update after}} to mark statements that should be updated in the future. Sometimes, code can be employed to help keep content updated — for instance, when noting the contemporary value of a historical monetary figure, use {{Inflation}} rather than just writing out the conversion for the current year.
  • Clearly establish the article's style of English through templates like {{use dmy dates}} and {{use American English}} so that it can be retained.
  • Transclude duplicate content instead of copying and pasting it. This ensures that updates or improvements to it will be synced with the page.
  • Migrate information to Wikidata, where it can be more easily updated via bulk imports or by a non-English contributor.
  • Document templates and other complex pieces of code thoroughly to make them easier to maintain and to revive if they break.
  • Use full citations rather than bare URLs to guard against link rot.
  • Add incoming links, redirects, and categories to make pages (particularly in the project and template spaces) easy to find so that they are less likely to be recreated by someone unaware of them.
  • Protect pages at an appropriate level to make them as accessible as possible without inviting vandalism.
  • Ensure that sectioning reflects due weight, since once a section is added, it tends to get filled out over time. Criticism or controversy sections are particularly dangerous, since they are a magnet for recentist news coverage that is unlikely to be notable long-term.
  • Use summary style and keep article scopes sufficiently broad. The more content there is, the more work it is to maintain, and for evolving topics that get limited editor attention, this can lead to degradation. Even if you think your article could survive an AfD, it may still be wise to upmerge it.
  • Avoid obscure or dated templates if more common or modern alternatives are available, since those are more likely to be maintained. Do not tag articles with {{nobots}}, which hinders future maintenance.

For broad-scope articles[edit]

It is scientifically proven[citation needed] that all articles will eventually gone to ashes

You successfully nominated an article through good article nomination or tougher featured article candidacy, and now it has a small icon (, ) on top. Unfortunately, for a topic that is broad enough so that finding information is not an issue comes with a curse of rotting, especially if it is about a semi-current topic. Therefore, you must take a more drastic approach to prevent the article status from being burnt at the dreaded reassessment. For these articles, more drastic approaches can be taken that are otherwise too time-consuming:

  • Structure the article to be modular, meaning to plan the sectioning. Sections will get filled up with content over time, even get split and created in the future once the time comes. Unfortunately, oftentimes, it would be extremely awkward to do so, such as in Donald Trump article. Yes, the sections are divided properly, but reorganizing the article would need a herculean effort.
  • Concise. Make it short. Shorter article comes with many benefits: read easier, easier maintenance, more modular. Cut your words down. You can make the article much shorter than you might think.
    • Take one step further and break-up into smaller paragraphs. Many people have a tendency to write an extremely long paragraph, but this would make readers bored, and maintaining the article much more difficult. For mobile readers, this is literally a wall of text. So, try cutting down your concise article into smaller paragraphs, and you would be surprised by the result.
  • Make sure that the reviews are very strict. Islam used to be a featured article, and in the looks of the article and the nomination, it "looks" comprehensive. However, there are many problems with the article that would wreak havoc on its review: criticism section, no mention of current Islamic conflicts, inline references, etc. What is the take-away of this? Make sure that you go a step further than just pass the review—ace it. Make the reviewer impressed. Try to get it reviewed and seek feedback from as much Wikipedians as possible.
  • Look at many other articles for inspiration, not just ones that is related to what you are writing. You might find that Climate change organization is worth adapting, while a more obscure Dracophyllum fiordense has a section about species' integration with the environment that is worth inclusion. Whatever that is, keep in mind that if you omit an aspect of the topic, someone will write about it, and it might not look as good as you might have wanted.
  • Think like Long Now Foundation. Will this info be relevant 20 years later? Would adding this make sense when people land on Mars? Would this paragraph serve its job when the building is dismantled? If the article is just too fresh and hot, wait. Adding content then can bog down the article with good-but-not-excellent paragraphs.
  • Seek help from many other editors. This would foster collaboration, and may make the article much better than anyone can do alone.

By doing so, the article would be the best in class. Your article can literally be the best article about the subject in the world, by a stretch. These measures may make the article status last long into the future and being a lighthouse of sort to aspiring writers around the world, at all time. To quote from User:Vami IV/Completionism, transluded:

There is an elephant in the room, however: Wikipedia will never be finished. We'll never be finished! The only thing that could put the kibosh on our work is our obliteration. So if the completion of this Encyclopedia is impossible, what is this Completionism I speak of?

I think of Completionism as another Wikiphilosophy, somewhere in the canyon between the Inclusionists and Deletionists. However, Completionism, and Completionists by extension, shouldn't have a dog in that big, headline-grabbing chaoskampf. This is because Completionists are not watching the dog fight; they are pursuing the completion of as much of the Encyclopedia as possible, which I will term "Completion".

And now a potentially dumb question: Who is a Completionist? A Completionist is someone who writes quality content, organizes and supplies those content writers, and/or patrols and maintains our content. A lone wolf Featured Article writer, a WP:RX regular, or a member of the Guild of Copy Editors could be Completionists.

See also[edit]